COVID-19 Migrant Shelter Relief and Development
Support Abara's Efforts in Migrant Shelters During COVID-19
Amidst the change and uncertainty we are all facing as a result of this global pandemic, it is now more important than ever for our Abara team to walk alongside the most vulnerable members in our borderland region as we continue to pursue border connections, border education and border response.
In order to best serve our neighbors, we have taken several steps at Abara to adjust the work we do and direct our resources to better meet needs during this critical time. Our dedicated team is working hard to ensure that the hundreds of asylum seekers staying at migrant shelters in Ciudad Juárez are supported and cared for. New plans are being set in place, zoom meetings are the new norm, food delivery to migrant shelters is increasing, and we pray for hope to be sustained. Here are some of the ways we are adjusting in the following areas:
Unfortunately, we have had to temporarily suspend border encounters for the near future for the safety of all involved. We have canceled groups through mid-May and we will continue to monitor the situation and make informed decisions about future groups. While we absolutely believe in the power of personal encounters on the border, our ultimate aim with border encounters is to increase awareness, education, understanding and connections, leading to inspired responses across divides - and we believe there are many creative avenues for this to happen during this time in which border encounters are not an option.
We continue to seek and strengthen connections in our El Paso-Juarez border metroplex, along the US-Mexico border, on migrant pathways from Central America and with others in border, migrant or conflict settings around the world. We are not alone and we are humbled by the faithful and courageous actions of people of peace around the world. The Abara Ciudad Juárez-focused team members, Blanca and Gustavo, have done an amazing job connecting broadly around Juárez - with government officials, migrant shelter directors, asylum seekers, legal experts, international NGO's, local churches and other local organizations. These relationships and the corresponding trust that has been built were always important but have become even more critical given our current reality as many of us are isolated in our respective countries/cities/homes and we are having to remotely strategize effective responses, some of which are described below.
We hope that as we grow in relationships and awareness about a situation, we are drawn into faithful and inspired responses in our respective settings. We strive for this in our borderland setting, and it has led us to support asylum seekers, migrant shelters, infrastructure projects, training scholarships, equipment purchases, bunk bed construction, and of course provision of emergency food and personal supplies in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez. Currently, the situation in the Juárez shelters is very difficult. There has been a concerted effort to keep the shelters safe from exposure to COVID-19, but income is hard to come by, resources are scarce and assistance has significantly decreased. In the midst of this, Abara staff are collaborating with a small local binational network to ensure that the migrant shelters have sufficient food and basic supplies. We are also supporting a US lawyer who has stayed onsite in Juarez, and Blanca and Gustavo are both in the process of becoming accredited reps through the Department of Justice so they can be more supportive with legal issues. Meanwhile one of our team members, Keisha, has been integral to another informal collaboration of folks in supporting a dozen or so African asylum seekers while they are in shelters in Juarez, visiting in detention in ICE facilities (although this is temporarily banned), passing on information, and helping to secure/pay bonds. Some of you have been integral to helping with airline tickets and in finding sponsor families for these individuals around the country. Thank you!
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810 N. Campbell
El Paso, TX 79902
(Please make checks payable to Ciudad Nueva, our fiscal agent, and write "Abara" in the memo line.)